Located near the northern end of the Main Street Bridge, the Wells Fargo Center at 1 Independent Dr. is one of the most iconic parts of the downtown Jacksonville skyline.
Its iconic, award-winning design was created by KBJ Architects, the Jacksonville-based firm responsible for many of the city’s most well-known buildings. Most recently, they collaborated on the design for the Duval County Courthouse.
Construction on the massive office building began in 1972, wrapping up two years later. At 535 feet and 37 stories, it became the tallest building in both Jacksonville and the entire state of Florida. It would remain the tallest in Florida until 1981, and in Jacksonville until the Barnett Center (now Bank of America Tower) was finished in 1990.
Its first tenant was Jacksonville-based Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company, who owned the entire building. As such, the lettering on the building read “Independent Life”, and it became known as the Independent Life Building.
Two years after the building opened, the River Club of Jacksonville moved into the top two floors of the building, where they remain today.
Independent Life remained as the building’s major tenant and owner until 1995, when the company was bought out and its operations were moved out of the city. They sold the building to Orlando-based Associated Capital Properties. ACP then sold the naming rights to Jacksonville-based staffing firm AccuStaff. For seven years, the building’s lettering read “AccuStaff”.
In 2002, AccuStaff underwent reorganization, renaming itself MPS Group and creating new specialized, branded divisions of the company. They decided to rename their building after one of these divisions, Modis. As such, it became the Modis Building.
In 2009, Swedish staffing company Adecco Group purchased MPS Group. Over the next two years, Adecco gradually moved its operations to Southside’s Deerwood Park complex. While the building still had plenty of secondary tenants, none of them chose to buy naming rights. The building was renamed Independent Square in 2011, with no signage being put up.
Luckily, national banking company Wells Fargo reached a deal to move its downtown Jacksonville operations into the building later that same year. They also chose to buy naming rights; the building continues to be known as Wells Fargo Center today with seven of its floors being occupied by the company.
In 2014, the building sold to New York-based Allegiance Capital Partners for $75 million. According to the Florida Times-Union, the building was 89% occupied at the time of the sale.
Today, the building lives on as an important figure in both the city’s skyline and its financial sector. In addition to its offices, it features a small auditorium, small retail shops, and a lunch spot called Atrium Cafe & Grill. The atrium area also has an indoor garden.
Current tenants include Wells Fargo, Regency Centers, several law firms, the offices of the Jacksonville Armada FC, and many other local and national companies.
Despite its current name, many longtime residents will still refer to the building as either the Independent Life or Modis building, depending on which era they grew up in.
While the city’s skyline has evolved since the Wells Fargo Center was completed, it remains perhaps the most iconic of its many buildings.
Got any cool facts about the building to share? Hit us up in the comments section, and let us know what YOU call the building!